California Rubber

California’s and Nevada’s Authoritative Voice of Ice and Inline Hockey

Behind the Bench: Do you work hard? Think again!


After graduating from Notre Dame, I thought I knew what hard work was. 

Then I learned better.

I was watching Quinnipiac play Minnesota for the college hockey championship a few weeks ago.  

Quinnipiac has a player with the last name Brind’Amour. That brought back a memory, and then the camera panned to show Rod Brind’Amour – a world-class player I got to meet and play alongside with the Carolina Hurricanes. Now, the memory was in full effect – the day I learned what hard work was.  

This is a story about Rod, who at the time was a veteran NHL stalwart.  If you don’t know him, look him up. He is a world-class hockey player and human being.

This story takes place during my first year attending the Hurricanes’ pre-season skates. They were fantastic. You cannot explain the speed, accuracy, and perfection that takes place at those levels. If you haven’t been on the ice with guys of that caliber, it is impossible to describe.

After one of the skates, we (the rookies and AHL guys) were all going through a workout with the club’s trainer. Part of the session was an arena run. Basically, run all the stairs in the arena as fast as you can – top to bottom of a massive NHL arena.

Having been training my whole life, this was just “another” hard thing to do. So I put my head down and away we went. Up and down. Up and down. All the way around the arena. I can’t remember if we did it multiple times or just one time. Either way, we tore through the workout and finished. We felt pretty good. That post-workout high you get. We felt pretty good about ourselves.

We were finishing up when Rod came out to do the same workout – with a 45-pound weight vest on.  

Our mouths dropped.  

Even better. Our trainer told us, “Yeah, he will do it faster than all of you.”


We were early 20-something world-class athletes.  Rod had to be pushing 40.  

It sunk in.  Oh boy…

That’s the bar.  That’s the bar to be at that level.  That is the bar to be a long-term NHL legend.

And we weren’t there.  We were below the bar.

Rob was the culmination of YEARS and YEARS of proper health, nutrition, discipline, and excellence.  

Here is a Stanley Cup-winning NHL veteran demonstrating what it takes to “make it.”

So the next time you think you are working hard, remember this story. You probably don’t know how hard, hard work is. Because there is someone, like Rod, out there making your hard work look silly.

Now, get back to work!

Noah Babin played NCAA Division I hockey at the University of Notre Dame and currently coaches with the San Diego Jr. Gulls youth hockey program.

Photo/Jamie Kellner

(April 27, 2023)

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